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Thursday June 11, 2009
I didn’t know, did you know? I didn’t know that last year Stephen Harper formally apologized to the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people of Canada for their Residential School Experience that was imposed on them.

Today was a Day of Reconciliation, initiated by the Assembly of First Nations.

Here are some facts every Canadian should know (I didn’t until recently):

  • approximately 250,000 kids were forced by law to go to residential schools in Canada, starting in 1850
  • these were kids age 6 – 15
  • the intent was explicit:  “To kill the indian in the child”
  • it is estimated that a minimum of 35% and maybe as many as 60% of these children died within five years of being sent to the school, possibly as genocide
  • by all accounts, the schools were replete with abuse beyond the primary abuse of forbidding use of their language, breaking up families, forcing christianity on them, cutting their hair (a shaming event)

I ask you:  If your children were stolen from you, and you were helpless to prevent it;  if you knew they were being brutalized in a school far, far away (returning home with broken bones, and many times never coming home at all – they had died);  if you knew that they were being converted to a foreign religion, were not allowed to speak your language, were having your culture beaten out of them, would you not be wild with grief?  Enraged?  Humiliated?  Suicidal? Turn to alcohol?

So years later, the churches and the Gov’t have apologized and have set up a fund of $1.9 Billion.

We all know, of course, that the money and the apologies, while deeply symbolic and important, don’t heal.  And they don’t reconcile – well, not much.

How does an entire population recover and heal?

How can families become healthy, when generation after generation were not parented, but sent en masse to abusive schools?

How can meaning in life be recovered when languages – those purveyors of meaning and entirely unique worldviews – are all but extinct?

How can self-esteem reinfuse a population that has been so broken?

How does a government ever regain credibility?

I am sure the Peoples who lived and loved here will find their way to healing and fullness of life – indeed, many already are.

For my part, all I can say is how deeply I value and esteem the culture and thoughtfulness and spirituality and connectedness to the land of my fellow Dene, Metis and Inuvialuit citizens who share their traditional territory with me.

And, on a personal note, along with my church and my government, I too say:  I am so, so sorry. And I am so grateful for your presence in my life – it makes my life richer and more worthwhile.

ps:  this gets at the spirit of it although some of the lyrics aren’t quite right:

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Hi Nancy,
    What a wonderful blog on reconciliation, and I thank you (merci cho).

    Personally, I don’t place too much emphasis on the burdens of the past, although I recognize the brutality and injustice done to Indigenous Peoples. However, we are responsible for our own choices in ‘this life’ by being authentic, and taking responsibility for our actions. By these actions we honor our people those living and dead. To be truly one with nature is to be rooted in the present.
    .-= Angelina´s last blog ..Manifesting Feelings =-.


    Jun 12, 2009
  2. brad

    While I agree with Angelina that we who live today are not the same people who did these terrible things eight generations ago and that it’s constructive to try to put the past behind us, it’s worth noting that native concepts of time can be very different from those of Europeans; in some cultures what we think of as the “past, present and future” exist together in the same moment.

    I also find it frustrating that the avenues of charitable giving and microfinance available to ordinary citizens like me make it far easier for us to help people halfway across the world than to help our own neighbours. And in fact we don’t even know how to help, we don’t know what they want, what they need, or what they don’t want.


    Jun 12, 2009

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